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August 24, 2000
Gopal returns with Veerappan's response
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
Journalist-emissary R R Gopal returned to Madras after the end of his second round of talks with brigand Veerappan to negotiate the release of Kannada matinee icon Dr Rajakumar and three other hostages. Gopal briefed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and senior state government officials about the negotiations.
"Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna is coming over here for further discussions on Friday," Gopal told the scores of newspersons waiting for him at Karunanidhi's Gopalapuram residence. He did not give any details saying, "I will meet the press on Friday."
According to informed sources, Gopal has brought with him an audio and video cassette containing Veerappan's response to the decision of the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments on the 14 demands raised by him. Indications are that the brigand was happy with the decision to release 56 prisoners. However, he is believed to be keen on compliance of his other demands as well.
At one stage, sources close to Gopal had hinted at the possibility of his bringing at least one of the four hostages with him, not necessarily Dr Rajakumar. That would have been indicative of the progress made in the negotiations and also the willingness of Veerappan and his Tamil Nadu Liberation Army handlers to go in for a step-by-step bargain.
However, Veerappan and company seem to prefer a wholesale deal. They are stressing on compliance of all the demands.
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